Tim Wildmon

Tim Wildmon, president of the rabidly anti-gay American Family Association (AFA), leads a Christian Right propaganda hub of vast outreach. The group owns about 200 radio stations and has 2 million online supporters, two Internet TV channels and a $20 million annual budget. Wildmon took over the Mississippi-based organization, which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, after the 2010 retirement of his father, AFA founder Donald Wildmon.

About Tim Wildmon

The younger Wildmon had previously run the AFA’s Internet news site. Tim Wildmon depicts gay people as perverted and sinful in frequent online fundraising missives and has urged boycotts of a wide array of gay-friendly corporations. The group’s websites and Wildmon’s daily radio show, “Today’s Issues,” also provide valuable platforms for many other gay-bashing leaders of the religious right and serve as a venue for anti-Muslim and conspiracy-minded antigovernment propaganda.

In His Own Words:
“What we reject is the idea that you can take homosexuality, which in the Bible is defined as a sin … it’s unnatural, it’s immoral, it’s unhealthy, and laud it and call it wonderful and say this is the same as heterosexuality. It is not. … We know this is a destructive lifestyle and behavior… .”
—“Sandy Rios in the Morning,” AFA Radio, Oct. 2, 2012

“Our president is promoting the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered and queer agenda like there is no tomorrow. God says homosexuality … should be repented of, not embraced and celebrated as a valid ‘alternative lifestyle’… . The Scripture shows us that God sometimes destroyed nations for their rebellion against his moral standards and their lack of repentance. It will happen to us as well if we continue down this path.”
—AFA Journal, July/August 2014

“Putting a man like [Michael] Sam, who says he is sexually attracted to men, in with all that beefcake seems unfair to the straight players and a distraction to Sam. … Would you put a heterosexual man in the locker room/showers with all the female cheerleaders?”
—Fundraising E-mail opposing Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player, being allowed to play professional football, July 25, 2014

“They have these effeminate, a lot of them, actions. They walk like a girl, a lot of them. … [I]t makes you wonder, how did that develop, where does that come from?”
—“AFA Today,” AFA Radio, claiming he can recognize gay men by their mannerisms, as reported by Right Wing Watch on Jan. 31, 2014

“[Islam] is in fact a religion of war, violence, intolerance, and physical persecution of non-Muslims.”
—Column, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, March 4, 2012

Background
Tim Wildmon is the son of former Methodist minister Donald Wildmon, who left the ministry to form the National Federation for Decency in 1977. After claiming that Jews “heavily influence” Hollywood and that Hollywood is actively hostile to Christians, he was widely accused of anti-Semitism, even by many conservative Christian leaders. In 1988, after changing his group’s name to the American Family Association, Donald Wildmon expanded its scope far beyond its original focus on fighting pornography and profanity in television and movies. AFA was rebranded as a group that aimed to promote “traditional moral values” with a major focus on fighting what it calls “the homosexual agenda.”

Tim Wildmon graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in journalism, wrote two humor books, served on the Lee County, Miss., Republican executive committee, and dabbled in local political campaigns. Today, Wildmon writes a bi-weekly column from his religious-right perspective for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Wildmon also leads “Spiritual Heritage Tours” to Washington, D.C., and Mount Vernon twice a year, emphasizing the allegedly heavy influence of Christianity on U.S. history and the Founding Fathers.

But he has devoted most of his professional life to building AFA, making it one of the most powerful religious-right groups in the U.S. Before becoming president, he ran the “news” division of AFA, formerly called AgapePress, which merged with American Family Radio News to create OneNewsNow.com in 2007. The site is a flagrant propaganda outlet that depicts reality through the prism of bias and conspiracy-mongering. Some exemplary headlines: “Illegal alien children to spread infectious diseases”; “Global warming hoax”; “Homosexual rights trump foreign policy in Obama White House.”

Wildmon has a long record of adamantly opposing any tolerance for gay people.  In the year 2000, he even spoke out against burgeoning high school gay/straight alliances that foster understanding and friendship and work to end schoolhouse bullying. Instead, “We view these clubs as an advancement of the homosexual cause,” he told educationworld.com.

AFA has spearheaded many boycotts — typically with very little effect — against corporations that treat gay people with respect. Among others, the group has targeted Home Depot, McDonald’s, Hallmark Cards (for selling same-sex wedding cards), J.C. Penney (for featuring Ellen DeGeneres, a lesbian, in commercials), Campbell’s Soup and even all-American Walt Disney Co. Disney committed the sin of extending benefits to same-sex partners of its employees.

A frequent mainstream media commentator, Wildmon can be counted on to deplore the dire, anti-Christian threat to family life posed by gay marriage and entertainment media portrayals of gay people as normal. He makes the rounds at Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, as well as scoring prominent quotes in large-circulation dailies such as USA Today, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Wildmon also has enabled the toxic spread of hate by inviting a rogue’s gallery of radical guests to sound off on his daily radio show. Just as tellingly, he employs Bryan Fischer as a key AFA spokesman, its director of issue analysis for government and policy. Fischer is an unhinged bigot with few equals, but Wildmon has done almost nothing to rein him in. Among Fischer’s notorious statements is his claim that Hitler was gay and that he chose gay storm troopers because straight men weren’t savage enough to carry out the Holocaust — a claim that has been roundly debunked by all serious historians of the period. A small sampling of other on-the-record statements from Fischer: Homosexuality should be illegal in the U.S.; black people on welfare “rut like rabbits”; no Muslims should be accepted for service by our military, nor should mosques be permitted to be built here; and executing couples who pursue “sexual immorality” could help the nation renew its “commitment to follow God.”

On Wildmon’s watch, Fischer seems to have moved ever deeper into the land of loony hatred, notwithstanding the group’s appending of a perfunctory disclaimer to Fischer’s online posts saying that his views are his own. AFA president Wildmon mostly has kept hands off, but even for him there is apparently a limit — if, that is, the target is a favorite of the far right of the Republican Party. During one of Fischer’s on-air rants, this one against former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s sexual infidelities, Wildmon texted Fischer a warning that “he might be alienating listeners,” according to a New Yorker profile of Fischer in 2012.

Wildmon has handed a megaphone to a large number of virulently anti-gay leaders as invited guests on his daily radio show, “Today’s Issues.” In 2012, he hosted and expressed his admiration for anti-gay pastor Patrick Wooden, notorious for claiming that gay men have to wear diapers or “butt plugs” because they lose control of their bowels. He also has called homosexuality “anti-human.”

Another guest: Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, who raged against a United Nations document on the rights of people with disabilities, claiming that if his child had ADHD or wore glasses, “the UN would get control over them.” Wildmon response was to suggest closing down the UN.

Wildmon warmly hosted Joseph Farah, editor and publisher of WorldNetDaily, a truly lunatic-fringe online publication. Farah is a far-right conspiracy-monger who doesn’t believe that President Obama was born in the U.S., makes a habit of predicting Armageddon, and once even ran a mind-boggling, multi-part series claiming that eating soy turns people gay. WND also has pushed the idea that Muslims have a secret plan to conquer the U.S. by 2020 and, in a related vein, Wildmon and Farah have commiserated over President Obama’s alleged “war against Christians.”

Linda Harvey of the anti-gay hate group Mission America touted her new gay-bashing book in a 2014 appearance on Wildmon’s show. During the exchange, Wildmon confided, “I can tell you who’s gay” just by looking at them. “They have these effeminate, a lot of them, actions. They walk like a girl.”

Mathew Staver of the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel was another hate group leader who came on the show to discuss court battles against recent laws banning the use of gay “reparative” therapy on minors. Wildmon, saying there is a new movement “promoting transgenderism,” complained that now therapists aren’t allowed to turn young gay people away from their sinful ways — but they can, he said, help them to transition to another sex. “You can help people as long as they want to move to deviancy,” he lamented.

In a related interview, Wildmon hosted “ex-gay” activist Anne Paulk, who promoted the discredited therapy that is supposed to change people’s sexual orientation. For good measure, she also warned on the show that God is punishing gay people by giving them sexually transmitted diseases.

Open anti-LGBT discrimination is frequently promoted on Wildmon’s show. For example, fundamentalist Baptist televangelist Robert Jeffress tore into President Obama for his July 2014 executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees. Jefress said that action somehow paved the way for the government to begin stripping away tax exemptions and broadcasting rights from churches and religious groups. Wildmon enthusiastically agreed with Jefress.

Wildmon typically takes news of the day as a jumping-off point for his online fundraising letters, which he salts with vague threats about the terrible things to come if Christians don’t support AFA’s work. For example, after Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” TV show, was briefly suspended by A&E for his remarks about homosexuality, Wildmon crafted a 2014 fundraising letter around a supportive postcard to Robertson. He asked people to send a check to AFA and sign the postcard, which would then be forwarded to Robertson. Wildmon’s letter depicts support for Robertson as a chance to “uproot the entrenched evil that’s killing the soul of our nation.” “By simply expressing the truth of God’s moral law you have encouraged other Christians to speak out in opposition to those who would convince our society that homosexuality is morally equivalent to heterosexuality,” he wrote in the postcard. “Following your example, I intend to be bolder and more active in defense of God’s truth.”

Major advances in the movement for marriage equality have triggered furious denunciations from Wildmon. When a federal judge struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2010, Wildmon termed the ruling “tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional.” He also set up a parallel between homosexuality and pornography, saying that it was “extremely problematic that Judge [Vaughn] Walker [who issued the decision] is a practicing homosexual himself. … His situation is no different than a judge who owns a porn studio being asked to rule on an anti-pornography statute.”

More recently, Wildmon’s public statements have been marked by an increasingly bitter tone. A summer 2014 fundraising pitch termed Hollywood “a 24/7 promotion machine for GLBTQ.”  Pro-gay groups “basically promote their cause all day, every day in the entertainment industry, in academia, in fashion, in the corporate world and in national politics. And now we can add sports.” The solution? “We must get more Christians to wake up and fight back or we will lose our country.” But some, thankfully, are still fighting the dominant godless culture, he added. “One thing you can count on, American Family Association is doing a lot of good work,” he said before coming to his bold-face ask, “but we need your help today.”

Under Wildmon’s leadership, AFA demagoguery, always hair-raising, has become more outrageous and disconnected from reality than ever. A recent online post was headlined, “7 common careers Christians may no longer hold in America,” and went on to list the allegedly prohibited professions as photographer, baker, counselor, teacher, broadcaster, florist and innkeeper. After each career, the post detailed a claim that someone had been fired or charged with breaking the law because they’d spoken out against or refused to do business with gay people.

Despite his doomsday talk about the peril in which Christians and Christianity find themselves, Wildmon hopes to take his group far into the 21st century. “AFA is improving the way we communicate,” a 2014 post said, and now right-thinking folks can download the AFA Action Alert App on mobile devices. This will provide immediate alerts for taking action on issues of concern, such as the rights being won by LGBT people. The group’s conclusion: “You can believe AFA will always stand on God’s word and will never compromise our values.”